China says Turkey's allegations on Uighur camps based on lies
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping review honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Jul. 29, 2015. EPA-EFE/FILE/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Beijing, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- China on Monday trashed as lies Turkey's allegations that nearly one million Uighur Muslims were subjected to torture and political brainwashing in concentration camps and prisons in Xinjiang region.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying noted that China respected freedom of religious belief and asked Ankara to stop making such accusations in the interests of the ties between the two countries.
The statement comes after Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday said the concentration camps had detained more than one million Uighur Muslims and "the systematic assimilation policy of Chinese authorities against the Uighur Turks is a great embarrassment for humanity".
But Hua strongly denied it and said that the lives of people in Xinjiang had "significantly improved" with China's intensified "anti-terrorist measures".
"The accusations made by the Turkish side are obviously based on lies," Hua told reporters, asking Turkey to withdraw the remarks "to uphold the relations between our two countries".
The spokesperson said that population in the western region of the country - near Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan border - "enjoy freedom of religious belief," and that they have the right to use their own language, and that their "culture is self guarded."
"Turkey is also a multi-ethnic country, and faces terrorist threats. Adopting double-standard in anti-terrorism issue will be self-defeating in the end," Hua said.
"We hope the Turkish side will correctly look at China's policy and efforts in this regard and use actions to enhance mutual trust and cooperation."
Xinjiang region in China is home to around 10 million Uighurs. Muslims, which make up around 45 percent of Xinjiang's population, have long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
According to international human rights organizations, Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities were being detained in these camps arbitrarily on frivolous charges like refusing to give a DNA samples, speaking in a minority language or arguing with government officials.
The Amnesty International in September last year reported deaths and torture of Muslims in these so-called reeducation camps, alleging that the mass detention centres were places of "brainwashing, torture and punishment" and people who would commit a simple act of messaging family abroad were being detained.
The Chinese government justifies these camps as part of its counter-extremism and counter-terrorism efforts and only releases an individual who "has been transformed".